Speaking with Insurance Business in the thick of the COVID pandemic, Wendy Wilder (pictured left), executive director of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF)’s UK division emphasised the evolving link between insurance and charity. Joining Dawn Miller (pictured right), commercial director at Lloyd’s of London, and chair of the IICF UK’s board of directors, Wilder provided an update on the work of the IICF last year.
Miller noted that in September, IICF UK held a conference on ‘Social Purpose and Inclusion in Insurance’ which saw delegates from insurance organisations including CNA Hardy, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, AXA XL, Chubb, Lloyd’s and EY gather to discuss best practices and priorities within the industry. This focused on creating a more inclusive culture and furthering environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives.
“Also,” she said, “we formally launched Affiliate Membership targeted at small regional companies or firms early on their CSR/ ESG Journey and have four founding members: Capgemini, Kennedys, WRB Underwriting and Sidley. We have a strong pipeline and an event planned in Manchester to expand IICF’s reach and impact beyond London.”
Meanwhile, in October, the IICF held its first in-person Gala Dinner since 2019 at Drapers’ Hall, sponsored by Weightmans and Capgemini.
“The evening featured remarks by John Amaechi OBE and Douglas Samuel, MBE and CEO of Spartans CFA, an IICF grant-recipient charity helping at-risk students in North Edinburgh to gain confidence and excel in school,” Miller said. “More than 150 guests attended and helped us raise £85,000 for charities advancing social mobility - inc. Spartans CFA, Bookmark Reading Charity and Women’s Inclusive Team.”
Touching on the success of the 2022 IICF Week of Giving, Wilder highlighted that it is the longest ongoing volunteer initiative industry serving communities across the UK and America.
“We have more than 110,000 volunteers who have volunteered over the years,” she said. “This year, employees participated in a variety of projects. For instance, Amwins Global Risks hosted a careers workshop for the Women’s Inclusive Team, helping people in East London to gain skills and confidence to successfully find employment. Other projects with industry leaders such as Axco, Chubb, BHSI and Weightmans included team service activities at Weald County Park, Providence Row and Spitalfields City Farm.”
Offering a specific example, she noted that seven volunteers from Weightmans helped out at Spitalfields - painting signs, flower beds, and the deck of a safari hut used for educational classes for children in the local community. At the end of the day, the team helped gather all the farm animals to take them back to their pens for the evening. It was a great day, she said, as they got to see how important this little city farm is to the wider community.
Commenting on the changing attitude towards the role of insurance in supporting wider and local communities, Miller highlighted how in recent years, the IICF team has seen a stronger dedication to ESG.
“ESG today means being a part of our community and participating more proactively in the future that surrounds us,” she said. “While there are aspects of ESG that may seem daunting, it’s critical that we are raising awareness of this together and that we can align and work collaboratively as an industry to make a difference.
“Insurance is reported to be the only industry that touches on all 17 [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)]. When you think about our industry, not much can move forward without our collective risk sharing. Our industry touches so many aspects of life, what we need to live, what we need to persist and succeed in our businesses and beyond, what we need for education, to power our economy and more. We need to ensure the 5 P’s – people, planet, peace, prosperity and purpose – are intertwined and interconnected with each other.”
Insurers have traditionally focused on the ‘E’ and ‘G’ dimensions of ESG, she said, but recent crises, such as the war in Ukraine and the pandemic – as well as the recent hurricane in Florida – have increased companies’ focus and attention on social sustainability issues as well.
“We are seeing a growing recognition that the insurance industry has an important role to play as a force for social (and environmental) good,” Miller said. “As an industry rooted in supporting resilience, insurance itself is a force for social good.”
Although climate has the greatest ‘voice’, she added, companies are increasingly looking at ways to deliver on the ‘S’ as well. For instance, through DEI strategies and charity partnerships, the IICF is working with member companies who are engaging employees as well as delivering solutions.
“There’s more of a focus on how can we do the right things and ensure we are taking care of the communities in which we operate,” Wilder said. “We’re looking at how we are taking care of the planet and how we can ultimately build a better industry from it. We’re looking at supporting customers and charitable activities – it’s all interrelated. There’s been no more important time to be focused on sustainability and ESG than now.
Insurers are also looking at how we measure our progress, she said. A recent report from the Geneva Association offers a framework for insurance leaders to assist them in measuring and evaluating the ESG progress they’ve made out in their communities, with their employees, partners and more. The report encourages industry leaders to consider ongoing business practices in a way that contemplates how we can tap into risk transfer, risk mitigation and resilience to further social good and build a better tomorrow.
Examining the key drivers of this changing attitude, Miller emphasised that ESG is at the forefront - with a specific focus on climate.
“We’re moving very rapidly from just having these issues be a series of acronyms to now becoming an actual pillar of our business,” she said. “We’re all part of the sustainability initiative going forward, and it has to stay that way. Greater community needs and divides inc. the digital divide, attainment (education) gap and social mobility barriers are also driving a new focus on ESG.”
Changing consumer patterns are playing a part as well, Wilder said, with more people looking to work for, or with, companies that can demonstrate responsible business practices. Employees increasingly want a sense of purpose beyond their day job. Post-pandemic, companies are looking for new ways to engage, and bringing together employees and charitable giving/volunteering is one way to achieve this.
“We recently covered the development of ESG and what steps our businesses should be taking in our Insight Series webinar with Dawn, Rebekah Clement and Alex Ignaciuk, an exclusive addition from our Global Membership program,” she said. “Global Membership is a new opportunity for individuals to advance social good through IICF. This unique program advances volunteerism and philanthropy while providing insurance professionals with individual networking and professional development benefits through member-exclusive opportunities, access and programming.”
IICF Global Membership is open to all industry professionals currently working in insurance or supporting businesses, retired industry professionals, and interns and apprentices working in insurance or related fields. Learn more at https://membership.iicf.org.